“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
So ends one of the great passages about Jesus’ teaching on prayer. It’s really striking that Jesus sums up all the things we might be asking for, and perhaps all the things we would be asking for if we were asking for the right thing, as praying for the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In this blog I’m going to reflect a little bit about the Holy Spirit. I won’t be talking about some of the specific (and sometimes dramatic), gifts of the Spirit like healing and speaking in tongues. Rather, I’m going to think about the Holy Spirit as a Person, one of the members of Holy Trinity, (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), who we can actually talk to and ask for blessing and help.
Sometimes when we think about the Trinity we think of the Holy Spirit as a function, for example as the love between the Father and the Son, or as a kind of divine blast communicating God’s grace to us. Whatever truth there may be in these views, I believe it’s important not to lose sight of the personal relationship we have with the Holy Spirit. We can pray to the Spirit. We can enter in a personal, “I-Thou” relationship with him.
What will happen? There is much that we know and much that we don’t know. The witness of the Scriptures and the experience of believers down the ages tells us many concrete things that we can say about the life of the Holy Spirit in each person. But there is also much that we can’t say, because the action of the Spirit is distinct and individual for each person. At the day of Pentecost, the Spirit descended as tongues of flame on each person. We are told that the tongues of flame were cloven, or divided, so they alighted on each person separately. The life of God given by the Spirit enables each person to grow as a bearer of the Spirit in the way that is distinct for each one of them. The individual gifts given them by God are enabled to flourish and bring forth the fruit which was intended. Through the Spirit the people of God have an infinite variety and an absence of uniformity.
What we do know, among many other things, are the fruits of life in the Spirit, which St Paul summed up in this way:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
We know that the Spirit will call in our hearts: “Abba, Father”,  and that he will be our Comforter and guide to truth. I began by saying that the Holy Spirit, like Jesus and the Father, is a Person to whom we can turn and pray. Here is an ancient example of such a prayer:
Come and live in me true light
Treasure without name
Reality without words.
Come and live in me, person beyond understanding
Rejoicing without end
Light that knows no evening
Unfailing expectation of the saved
Raising of the dead
Resurrection of the fallen
All-powerful one, for unceasingly you create, refashion and change all things by your will alone.
Come and live in me invisible One, whom none may touch and handle
For you continue always unmoved, yet at every instant you are wholly in movement; you draw near to us who lie in hell, yet you remain higher than the heavens.
For your name fills our hearts with longing and is ever on our lips;
yet who you are and what your nature is, we cannot say or know.
Come and live in me, Alone to the alone
For you are yourself the desire that is in me
My breath and my life
The consolation of my soul
My joy, my glory, my endless delight.
 Luke 11: 9 - 13
 Galatians 5:22,23
 Romans 8:15
 John 14:16
 Adapted from a prayer by St Symeon the New Theologian